Ten-year-old Katy burst out the front door of her friend’s house and started running.
I have to get home before it starts to rain. If only I could run faster. Maybe if I stretch my legs like doing sprints in P.E
She tried lengthening her stride, but gave up at the end of the block.
It bothered her to leave her friend’s house so soon. Before Emma’s mom picked her up for their playdate, Katy was playing with her new doll under the apple tree in the front yard. She’d named the doll Belle, and they were having a picnic. Belle had silky hair that fell in ringlets all the way down to her waist, and a yellow satin gown trimmed with lace. Her mom had called it an “heirloom.” She really wasn’t supposed to play with it much.
Mom said if I left another doll out in the rain she’ll take it away and I’ll never have anything new again. I just forgot! It’s not my fault I forget things!
It wasn’t until Emma’s mom mentioned rain that she’d remembered.
“Oh, no! Ms. White, can you please, please drive me home? I forgot my doll outside!”
“I’m sorry, Katy. Emma’s dad just took the car and I don’t know when he’ll be back. Your mom’s picking you up in an hour.”
“No offense, but I’ve gotta go! Mom’s gonna kill me!”
I hope Emma’s not mad. Oh, Belle will be ruined!
Katy stopped at the light to cross the street. Her sides were heaving. The wind picked up newly fallen leaves on the sidewalk, making them dance in crazy circles before dispersing them into a neighboring yard. She thought of the dolls in her room. Most of them were on the floor, actually, missing clothes and limbs, along with her books, two craft projects, a broken board game, and the poster that fell off her wall. Her mom had said that her toys would break less often if she kept them picked up and put away, but that was so hard.
At least, for me it’s hard. Not for perfect Miss Sophie. She always has her room clean. She remembers her Bible verses and remembers not to eat until after we pray and...
Sophie was Katy’s sister, 18 months older. She usually felt the need to reform Katy. “Why are you always so messy?” she’d say. Sophie’s new doll was nearly identical to Katy’s. She imagined Sophie playing with it, smugly pointing out how her hair was still smooth and her velvet dress still soft, while Katy had to content herself with one of her old dolls off the floor.
It’s just not fair.
Hot anger at the injustice of it all propelled her across the street and through the park. She looked up at the sky and noticed the clouds seemed heavier. Then she felt the first fat drop hit her head and slide down her bangs.
Maybe it’s bird droppings she thought, believing for the moment that even poo from above would be better than what she faced at home.
More drops followed the first, until even the sound of Katy’s breathing was drowned out in the cacophony of rain beating on leaves, roofs and cement. Katy’s hair and clothes were drenched by the time she reached her street. Her apple tree was in view, though, and she sighed with relief.
But Belle was gone.
She stood a moment in her front yard. Tears welled up in her eyes, mixing with the rain as they fell down her face. Seeing her mother at the door, she wiped them away, and braced herself for a scolding.
“Goodness, Katy, come in out of the rain! What happened? Why aren’t you over at Emma’s?”
Katy was silent. If Mom wasn’t going to mention the doll, she wasn’t going to be the first one to raise the subject.
Her mother ushered her in. “Go on to your room and change out of your wet clothes. Here’s a towel so you don’t drip all over the floor.”
Katy took the towel and marched into her room. To her complete surprise, she found her doll on her bed, nestled in the space between the pillow and quilt. She whirled around to find Sophie standing in the doorway.
“Um, thank you for sticking up for me yesterday,” said Sophie. “You said some really nice things. I saw your doll outside and I, um, well you know.”
Katie had never loved her sister more.
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